Meta told its workers Friday not to openly discuss the Supreme Court ruling stripping away the constitutional right to abortion in wide-ranging communication channels within the company, people with knowledge of the situation said.
Managers at Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, cited a company policy that puts “strong guardrails around social, political and sensitive conversations” in the workplace, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity. They said managers had pointed employees to a May 12 company memo, which was issued after the Supreme Court leaked a draft opinion on the potential overturn of Roe v. Wade.
In the May 12 memo, obtained by The New York Times, Meta said that “talking openly about abortion at work has a higher risk of creating a hostile work environment,” thus taking “the position that we would not allow open discussion.”
The policy has led to frustration and anger, people said. On Friday, some contacted colleagues and managers to express their disagreement with the company’s position. Managers were advised to be empathetic but neutral on the issue, while messages violating the policy were removed from team chats, two people said. In the past, Meta employees often used internal communication forums to discuss sociopolitical issues and current events.
Ambroos Vaes, a software engineer at Meta, said in a LinkedIn post that he was saddened that employees were “not allowed” to discuss the Supreme Court ruling at length. On the company’s internal communications platform, “moderators promptly remove posts or comments that mention abortion,” he wrote. “Limited discussion can only occur in groups of up to 20 employees following an established playbook, but not outdoors.”
A Meta spokesman declined to comment.
Friday’s action was Meta’s latest attempt to clamp down on contentious internal debates after years of employee unrest and leaks to the media. In 2020, the company updated its Respectful Communication Policy to limit certain conversations at work, according to the May 12 memo.
The changes followed the infighting over the police killing of George Floyd, a black man, in Minneapolis two years ago. Meta employees were told they were no longer allowed to discuss political or social issues on company-wide channels on Workplace, the company’s employee message board.
In October, Meta also made some Workplace groups private after Frances Haugen, a former employee, leaked thousands of internal investigative documents to the media. Employees lamented the loss of openness and collaboration, according to comments seen by The Times.
In the May 12 memo, Meta said it had previously allowed open discussion about abortion at work, but later acknowledged it had caused “significant workplace disruption given the unique legal complexities and number of people affected by abortion.” the topic”. The policy generated a high volume of complaints to the human resources department, and many internal abortion-related posts were removed for violating the company’s harassment policy, according to the memo.
Employees struggling with the Supreme Court ruling were instructed to support one another in individual conversations or in small groups of “like-minded colleagues,” the memo said.
On Friday, to address employee concerns about the Supreme Court ruling, Meta said it would reimburse travel expenses “to the extent permitted by law” for employees who needed to “access health and reproductive services outside of the office.” condition”.
Sheryl Sandberg, Meta’s chief operating officer, who will leave the company this fall, said in a Facebook post on Friday that “the Supreme Court’s ruling endangers the health and lives of millions of girls and women across the country.” ”.
“It threatens to undo the progress women have made in the workplace and strip women of economic power,” she wrote. “It will make it more difficult for women to achieve their dreams.”